Andrew Thomas on Jamaree Salyer: ‘You are definitely going to see some pancakes’
Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel usually brings, but not with this blog. This entry brings to DawgNation.com some interesting Intel regarding Jamaree Salyer and the gains he’s made getting ready for the 2020 season.
The coronavirus has meant a disruption to most of us. Time lost. Efficiencies that were taken for granted in our careers. The new normal has been an adjustment. Not an improvement.
That’s not the case with Georgia junior offensive tackle Jamaree Salyer. Salyer has used a global pandemic as a means for change.
He played last fall at 335 pounds, but Salyer now hovers around the 310-312 mark. He’s noticeably quicker and more agile. Kevin Johnson, his offensive line coach at Pace Academy, has been with him throughout this transformation.
“The biggest thing now is his core,” Johnson said.
@jamareesalyer69 weight check in before he start training with his team. @joshhswan did a outstanding job getting him ready for the next chapter in his life. @KirbySmartUGA #FamilyFirst #BIGDAWGSCLUB pic.twitter.com/WxA2cshEuG
— BIG DAWGS CLUB, LLC (@CoachKev79) June 9, 2020
When he played last fall, Salyer made his blocks but was on the ground far too much. He was picking his body up off of piles on the ground. The NFL scouts were not going to be a big fan of that.
“When I got that information, then we just transferred that information into the weight room,” Johnson said.
Salyer is now seen as the summer favorite to claim the left tackle spot for this year’s Georgia team because of the changes he’s made during this unique Covid-19 offseason.
His game was more aircraft carrier a year ago. He was seen as the backup right tackle and a key reserve for the guard spots, too.
The 2020 model Salyer now moves more like a battleship. Or a destroyer. That’s what former Georgia All-American Andrew Thomas has seen during their daily workouts over the last four months.
He thinks Salyer can now play left tackle at Georgia.
“I think he already had all the intangibles to play the position well and take advantage of an opportunity there,” Thomas said. “But him now being in the best shape of his life is now going to only make that transition easier for him. I’m proud of the work he’s put in. I”m excited to see the work he is going to do.”
The former Pace Academy standout has always had good technique. There was a time during an Atlanta Opening regional in the winter of 2017 when nobody wanted to line up against former 5-star Brenton Cox. There were no tackles jumping in to take those reps.
Salyer was already an Opening alum from the year before and a 5-star in his own right. So the coaches asked him to step in. The elite guard prospect won at least one of the reps and stalemated another. He more than held his own in that battle back then even though he was playing out of position.
DawgNation should see more of that in 2020.
“He’s always been strong and always had good technique,” Thomas said. “He understands the game really well. I think just being more nimble and understanding how to control his body a little better is going to take him to the next level.”
A key series of events that transformed Jamaree Salyer
The former 5-star offensive guard prospect started in The Sugar Bowl last January. The Bulldogs had a slew of turnover on their offensive line for the Baylor game. Salyer received a healthy share of playing time with his second career start at right tackle.
The 335-pound rising junior was in store for a breakout 2020 season.
But that young man is gone. He might have been plenty good. Good enough to even catch some NFL Draft eyes after his third season at UGA.
That Salyer has been transformed by a series of events. Thomas was set to be a first-round draft pick earlier this year.
He did that. His former Pace Academy and Bulldog teammate was the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft. It made him the highest-drafted offensive lineman in the history of the Georgia football program.
But the pandemic offered Sayler all the time in the world to chisel out a new body for this fall. He had online classes and didn’t have to confine himself to the campus setting during the quarantine. Thomas and his career flight also offered Salyer the opportunity to ratchet up the opportunity even further.
He trained to prep for the NFL Combine at Exos, a top-flight group human performance group headquartered in Arizona, and then returned to Georgia.
When he did, Thomas had daily workouts in the Atlanta area with his trainer Josh Swann. It was more top-of-the-line training. Salyer had the chance to join his buddy for those workouts under the watchful eyes of Swann’s expertise.
It was just like Salyer was working to get ready for a rookie season in the NFL, too. Not a junior year in the SEC.
“He was with me until they started back working out at Georgia,” Thomas said. “He was with me working out training and doing the workouts and the New York Giants workouts that I got from the strength staff up there. He’ll be ready.”
When it comes time for Salyer to train for the NFL either one year or two years into his future, it will be second nature. He’s been training like he was primed to go high in the draft since the late winter of 2020.
There was no workout period to fit into a busy school day. The workouts could dominate the day.
What would Thomas have said if somebody told him last fall that Salyer would weigh 310 pounds in the summer of 2020?
“I would have bet you $500 that he wasn’t going to be that low,” Thomas said.
Salyer is a different player now.
“He’s a lot more nimble now than just power,” Thomas said. “He’s a lot more explosive power.”
Andrew Thomas on Jamaree Salyer: What he looks like now
Thomas was asked to break down the biggest changes he has seen from Salyer up to this point.
“Jamaree is pretty athletic,” Thomas said. “People don’t know that but he is pretty athletic. With him losing that weight I think people are going to see that on the field a lot more. The other thing for him now is really his flexibility. Everyone knows he is a big strong guy but he is getting a lot better at bending. That is what will make him a better pass protector.”
Salyer was bench pressing 450-plus pounds before this spring, but he’s gotten stronger there as well. Kirby Smart even pointed out on Twitter recently that he sees abs in his future.
There was a drill he did on Instagram where Salyer made a series of quick-twitch leaps up and around a high hurdle. Thomas made those jumps the way a first-round tackle would, but Salyer was able to complete his circuit, too.
“Jamaree has come a long way,” Thomas said. “Knowing Jamaree from back in the day and I was surprised when I saw him do that. From training together over years and years, he’s always been a very strong guy. A brute strength guy but when you talk about being fluid, that wasn’t necessarily his strength. He’s now definitely come a long way in that.”
Salyer was given the idea to transform his body from Smart and new line coach Matt Luke to play tackle for the 2020 season.
“We just had to transform his body and his mindset,” Kevin Johnson said. “It goes with being disciplined at the table, working countlessly with the long hours and the small stuff like flexibility. So we implemented flexibility drills and exercises three days a week into his workouts.”
The starting point was right at 335 pounds. That was when Thomas came back from the NFL Combine in February in Indianapolis.
“The light went off in his own head from there,” Johnson said. “Jamaree started practicing more and doing more and more things on his own from there for himself to get better, lose the weight and really get in shape.”
There were a couple of times Salyer had to excuse himself from the gym in that process. It was all part of the work.
“He had to go outside,” Johnson said. “That was good, though. It just showed how hard he was willing to work. He saw where he was and now here where he is I am so proud of the kid.”
Jamaree Salyer: The changes he made to drop to 310 pounds
Johnson said Salyer told him that his regimen has left him prepared for summer workouts back in Athens.
“If most of your weight is in your stomach then your stomach weight pulls on your back and your back and that weight is what pull you down to the ground,” Johnson said. “That was the key here for Jamaree.”
Check out these workout videos.
— BIG DAWGS CLUB, LLC (@CoachKev79) May 13, 2020
WHO’S NEXT? We got the Blueprint pic.twitter.com/Ev34A458WV
— BIG DAWGS CLUB, LLC (@CoachKev79) April 30, 2020
— BIG DAWGS CLUB, LLC (@CoachKev79) May 31, 2020
@jamareesalyer69 @GeorgiaFootball @KirbySmartUGA Great Day @DASHGwinnett with @joshhswan. Big man thinking about going out of retirement next year to play @UGABasketball pic.twitter.com/xG0C7jNuGm
— BIG DAWGS CLUB, LLC (@CoachKev79) May 23, 2020
Salyer has a totally different body than the player who was once the highest-rated offensive guard prospect in approximately a generation. When Salyer was at the U.S. Army All-American Game in January of 2018, he weighed in at 366 pounds.
He doesn’t even look like the same athlete anymore. He looks like a 310-pound athlete. Fluid now means something more here than a road grader going to the water bucket to get a drink.
“It is not even his lifts anymore,” Thomas said. “It is just running and jumping and his explosive movements. Things like that. You can even see it in his offensive line drills with unlocking his hips and stuff. He used to have tighter hips, but you see him doing certain drills and his kick slide now being fluid. It just shows you how he’s made improvements.”
This didn’t take place thanks to high-intensity workouts and constant next-level training of two to three hours each day. His diet evolved, too. Salyer eliminated the starches and sugars from his weekly nutrition plan.
He will still eat the chicken wings he loves. Or a steak when he goes out. But he’s removed the bread and some of the heavier pasta options. It is just more sensible eating and portion control.
The path to playing time wasn’t as fast for Salyer on the Georgia line as it was Thomas. That’s partly due to the fact that Georgia didn’t have players like Thomas and fellow first-rounder Isaiah Wilson on the line when he enrolled at Georgia. Cade Mays was also there ahead of Salyer as he enrolled six months earlier than Salyer in the same signing class.
Salyer was rated higher than all of those guys when he came out. But had to wait for his turn as a fixture starter at UGA.
“The biggest thing is he’s kept his mind right,” Thomas said. “Jamaree was a very highly-recruited guy. Very talented. But he didn’t get a chance to play as early as he was expecting but he hasn’t changed. He has a positive mindset. He didn’t complain. All he did was continue to work and I’m proud of him.”
“A lot of people wouldn’t be able to do that. They would get down and quit, but he knew that if he continued to work then he would get his time. His opportunity is coming soon.”
What’s the long-term position future for Jamaree Salyer?
The suggested topic above is a good question. The 2020 model Salyer would’ve been a good utility hybrid guard-tackle for even the stacked Georgia offensive lines of the last two seasons.
He can lock down a tackle spot for the Bulldog line this fall. But what about three or four years down the road?
That’s where his height and length come into play. He’s still just over the 6-foot-4 mark in height. That’s at least an inch below the prototype for NFL offensive tackles.
“I think in the NFL long-term Jamaree is probably going to play guard,” Thomas said. “Just because of the way he is built. That’s what his athleticism and size and strength are best for. But he does possess things that allow him to play out there at tackle or to play center like he did a couple of times for us last year. I think he can play any position on the line, but I feel like his home will be at guard.”
Sayer and Thomas have also been working each week with all-time great Atlanta Falcon Kynan Forney, too. Forney is now a successful trainer in the Atlanta area. That position-specific work just stacks on top of the gym work.
“The biggest thing for me training at EXOS and for the combine is just paying attention to your body,” Thomas said. “A lot of times in college we would just go to workouts and go do whatever afterward. Not eating the right stuff. Or not getting good sleep. But when you are a professional you pay attention to all of that. Your body is your investment. We do all types of recovery and all types of stretching with chiropractors.”
“All of those things you could now take advantage of to make you a better athlete. It would have been crazy to see how I would have played in college after training like that to get ready.”
Thomas gave Salyer a few tips for this fall. He’s expected to become a leader in the offensive line room for Matt Luke’s first full season at UGA.
“I told him to just trust your technique,” Thomas said. “You get into big moments and your mind gets going and your adrenaline starts pumping. A lot of guys lose sight of what they are always taught. A key thing for me is regardless of who you are facing or what the situation is if you just revert back to what you have been practicing and training to do, then nine times out of 10 you are going to see good success with that approach.”
Thomas had a few highlight clips at UGA where he was rolling some 20 yards downfield to make blocks. Or to keep climbing up past the second level. He predicts Salyer will now generate a few of those plays, too.
“You are definitely going to see some pancakes,” Thomas said. “I don’t know how many of those are going to be that far down the field but you are definitely going to see some pancakes for sure.”
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